BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - It will be hard to replicate the drama of their epic first test when South Africa and England clash again in Bloemfontein on Saturday as the tourists seek to improve their discipline and accuracy to end a four-game losing streak.
The Springboks rallied from 24-3 down after 17 minutes to claim a 42-39 victory in the opening game of the three-match series at Ellis Park last Saturday, prompting South African fans to wonder what is possible under new coach Rassie Erasmus.
Yet for England it was another dismal loss, beset by the same problems they encountered in the Six Nations as they once again showed an inability to stay on the right side of the referee, with a penalty count of 17-4 against Eddie Jones’ side.
“If you take that penalty count and it becomes eight-four we win the test match. Hopefully we will fix that this week,” Jones told SkySports on Thursday. “The team has been very good. They are making more steps forward to have more ownership of the team which is what we want.
“They are all big contests for us now. We want to win test matches and there is a lot of noise, a lot of pressure, but we have to find a way through this. We have a young bunch of players who are trying to do that.”
With a little over a year to go until the next World Cup, Jones has handed a first start to New Zealand-born flank Brad Shields in place of one of his stalwarts, Chris Robshaw, a move he says is intended to counter the South African lineout.
“Chris Robshaw has been outstanding for us but we just felt we needed another lineout (option),” Jones said. “Brad’s lineout jumping will come in handy for us. He is a tough workrate player like Robbo is so we want to pick up what Robbo has been doing and take to another level plus his lineout jumping.”
Jones could also give a first test runout in three years off the bench to flyhalf Danny Cipriani.
“His desperation impresses me, he really wants to play. We know he has got nice skills and his attitude has been outstanding.”
Joe Launchbury also starts at lock after recovering from a calf injury.
South Africa have made two changes to their starting side, with utility forward Pieter-Steph du Toit coming in at flank and Frans Malherbe taking over at tighthead prop.
On the other side of the scrum, loosehead Tendai Mtawarira will become the sixth Bok to reach 100 test caps.
“England is a powerful side and I know Eddie Jones will have his team super prepared for Saturday,” Bok coach Rassie Erasmus said.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis